Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 10

I've missed two days of school because of a 2-day teacher training session which I'm not qualified to attend. Not that I mind though. At least I've got more time for my books.

The departmental secretary gives me and another colleague a few snippets of what transpired during the training. She expresses frustration at the fact that the school managers don't back up their words with actions. She thinks their inconsistency is largely responsible for the kids' complacent attitude. They set rules but don't give teachers power to enforce them.

The discussion rapidly snowballs in the manner that most discussions do, and soon we're talking about the role of parents in enforcing discipline. The secretary believes the parents are completely out of touch with what is going on with the kids, leaving people like her in schools to take care of the mess. In her own words, "The parents haven't got a finger on the pulse. If they did, half my job won't be necessary".

Someone whizzes in with the latest news: some twenty teachers are leaving the school at the end of term; some to better jobs, some to nothing. The secretary says she doesn't blame the teachers for running away. Someone reminds her she's supposed to be projecting the school in a positive light, to which she replies, "It's got so bad now I can't".

My afternoon Maths class holds another English classroom, different from the usual venue. All over the walls are posters bearing snippets of information about various literature texts. I'm surprised to learn that the title of the book "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding is a literal translation of the Hebrew word Beelzebub. Nor did I know that the book is essentially a metaphor representing the spiritual battle between good and evil in the world. So what did I learn in the one term it took to study the book in my secondary school English Literature class?

The icing on today's cake of irreverent behaviour is served towards the end of the afternoon class. The students are working independently, only calling out for help when they need it. That leaves me and the teacher some free time to chat. At one point, engrossed in our discussion, the teacher leans over to explain something to me while gesticulating animatedly . A girl who hasn't done any work since the beginning of the lesson points at us from her perch and shouts, "Sir, you're married, remember?". The teacher, bewildered, turns to her and asks, "Why do you say that?" "Because you're flirting", she answers. Now, that's a new one on me, even by the standards of this school!

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